Country Post Office: News From The Army

Object Number: 
Overall: 20 x 14 x 10 1/2 in. ( 50.8 x 35.6 x 26.7 cm )
signed: front top of base: "JOHN ROGERS/NEW YORK" inscribed: front of base: "COUNTRY POST OFFICE/NEWS FROM THE ARMY" inscribed: back of base: "PATENTED APRIL 19 1864"
Genre figure: Bronze sculptural group featuring "an old cobbler who is postmaster also, [and] has just opened the mail-bag from the army. He is taking a provokingly long time to study out the address of a letter which the young lady at his side recognizes at once as for her"(Bleier 65). Patent # 1934: April 19, 1864
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This bronze served as the master model for the plasters that Rogers sold to a broad audience of middle-class Americans. Rogers' famed Civil War groups often took a lighthearted view of the realities of war, offering comfort in reminders of everyday pleasures, humor, and camaraderie. The artist himself described Country Post Office: News from the Army as follows: "An old shoemaker, who is postmaster also, has just opened the mailbag from the army. He is taking a provokingly long time to study out the address of a letter which a young lady by his side recognizes at once as for her." The cobbler peers through his glasses with furrowed brow and pursed lips; contemporary critics could not agree if he was having difficulty reading the address or if he might be teasing the young lady reaching eagerly for the letter; one critic discerned a "waggish look on his face." Rogers took delight in setting the scene with the many objects on the cobbler's untidy bench and the floor below, where tools, shoes, and letters mingle in comical profusion. Rogers' sculpture was an attempt to ameliorate very real anxieties that civilians felt for their loved ones in combat. In a period when letters were the only way of knowing that a soldier was alive and well, such news was precious and awaited with great anticipation. One critic noticed that Rogers did not specify whether the girl impatient for her letter was a lover, sister, or wife of a soldier. In this way he allowed the viewer to interpret the subject in terms of his or her own situation and perhaps draw some reassurance from the quotidian humor of the scene. Viewers understood and appreciated Rogers' attempts to allay their fears, but they were also aware of the larger concerns that his groups embraced: the Boston Daily Evening Transcript called this and his other Civil War sculptures "symbols packed with far reaching and penetrating suggestions of wide spread trials and joys."
Articles, Scrapbooks of miscellaneous clippings, etc. about John Rogers, Vols. 1, 3, 4, New York Historical Society. The Evening Post, New York, June 2, 1863, p. 2. Daily Evening Transcript, Boston, Dec. 5, 1863, Supl. P. 2. "Sketches of American Artists: Church, Bierstadt, Kensett, Gifford, Inness, Rogers, Story and Ward", The Evening Post, New York, June 25, 1864, p.1. Daily Evening Transcript, Boston, April 28, 1865, p. 2. Daily Evening Transcript, Boston, July 14, 1865, n.p. "Art in Boston," The Art Journal, April 1, 1868, n.p. Wells, Samuel R., ed., "John Rogers, the Sculptor", American Phrenological Journal and Life Illustrated, Vol. 49, no. 9, September 1869, pp. 329-30. Tuckerman, Henry T., Book of the Artists, American Artist Life, Comprising Biographical and Critical Sketches of American Artists: Preceded by an Historical Account of the Rise and Progress of Art in America, New York: P. Putnam & Son, 1867, pp. 595-7. Barck, Dorothy, "Rogers Group in the Museum of the New-York Historical Society", New-York Historical Society Quarterly, Vol. XVI, No. 3, October, 1932, p. 78. Smith, Mrs. and Mrs. Chetwood, Rogers Groups: Thought and Wrought by John Rogers, Boston: Charles E. Goodspeed & Co., 1934, pp.68-9. Wallace, David H., John Rogers, The People's Sculptor, Middleton, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1967, pp. 100, 148, 209-10, 295, 299, 304. Wallace, David H., "The Art of John Rogers: So Real and So True", American Art Journal, November, 1972, pp. 59-70. Holzer, Harold, and Farber, Joseph, "The Sculpture of John Rogers," Antiques Magazine, April 1979, pp. 756-68. Bleier, Paul and Meta, John Rogers Statuary, Atglen, PA: Schiffer Publishing Ltd., 2001, pp. 84-5. Clapper, Michael, "Reconstructing a Family: John Rogers's Taking the Oath and Drawing Rations," Winterthur Portfolio, Vol. 39, No. 4, Winter 2004, pp. 259-78.
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Due to ongoing research, information about this object is subject to change.
Creative: Tronvig Group